Biglaw, Bonuses, Money

Gradenfreude: Please Stop Bitching About Your Biglaw Bonuses

Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at, and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

As the holiday season draws near, many in Biglaw are focused on what they want to buy with their upcoming bonuses — or, more likely, how much they will bitch and moan if bonuses are not everything that they expected. And I have to admit, when I was in law school, I would read Above the Law articles covering the bonuses being handed out at firms and think, “I can’t wait to complain about the inadequacy of my year-end bonus.”

Little did I know just how true that statement would turn out to be. That’s because now, after graduating, the closest thing to a holiday bonus I’ll receive will be avoiding those annoying family gatherings — the ones where you act like you care about how people you only see once a year are doing — while I work non-stop.

Shortly after the holidays, however, I should be due for a raise, which will be nice because by that time, I foresee my alcohol intake and spending increasing dramatically. Unfortunately, that raise will only result in an extra $3,120, before taxes, after a full year of working. That’s right, the maximum amount that I’ll receive, should I be moved up to management, will be $1.50 per hour.

But since there are currently no positions on the management team at my retail job, the raise is more likely to be in the range of 50 cents. Fifty f**king cents….

What makes matters worse is the fact that there are certain products that we are told to plug and really push the customers to purchase. The problem, even with this glorious possible raise, is that I still won’t make enough money to purchase and enjoy these products myself.

I’ll say that again: I can’t even afford to buy the products that I’m stocking on the shelves. Think about that the next time you decide to compare your four- or five-figure bonus to the loose change found between partners’ couch cushions. What you consider a “tip,” I consider a windfall. You feel entitled to a bigger bonus? Aww, that’s cute. You know what I feel entitled to? A LIVING WAGE.

Not only am I going to complain about my crappy salary today, but I’m also reserving a space to whine about the fact that I’m older and better educated than those who are on the management team at my job. I am constantly taking directions from, at best, college dropouts, and, at worst, from individuals who received a GED in lieu of a high school diploma.

While being bossed around and daydreaming, I realized that while I may be better educated, I may not actually be smarter than these individuals. The same company employs us all, and we all make close to the same amount of money, but the rest of them didn’t just spend three years accumulating debt to now get paid just above minimum wage.

Damn, writing that sentence really depressed me. Maybe the increased alcohol intake I mentioned will start now…

When not writing about life after law school for Above the Law, Tristan Taylor Thomas (not his real name) works at a retail job stocking shelves — which he admits is slightly better than being a shoeshiner. You can reach him by email at

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